Archive for August, 2006

Bob Dylan Stays the Same, Really

Monday, August 28th, 2006

This week in our Festival News, we covered Bob Dylan’s latest reflection of our times — through his mouth more than his music. [August 25 — Dylan on Today’s Music: “It Ain’t Worth Nothing” — Guardian].

In Dylan’s interview with Jonathan Lethem in Rolling Stone (gee, wasn’t there some connection with the magazine’s name?), he made some groan with his current view on our times — or at least what we hear:

You do the best you can, you fight that technology in all kinds of ways, but I don’t know anybody who’s made a record that sounds decent in the past twenty years, really. You listen to these modern records, they’re atrocious, they have sound all over them. There’s no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like — static. Even these songs probably sounded ten times better in the studio when we recorded ‘em. CDs are small. There’s no stature to it. I remember when that Napster guy came up across, it was like, ‘Everybody’s gettin’ music for free.’ I was like, ‘Well, why not? It ain’t worth nothing anyway.’

Is there just a little bit of mine (LP) is bigger than yours (CD)? Is the man just Blowing in the Wind? Does he just want to be alone with his own music? Or, is this master mentoring the next generation of musicians by demanding that they Quit their Low Down Ways?

Leave aside for moment that his most recent album release (on CD) is entitled Modern Times; or, that he was the one who was roundly jeered when he lost the acoustic folk sound and plugged in for electric rock. Dylan is - as always - on to something.

In all art forms, one way of defining the difference between today’s mediocrity and genuine artistry is in the differences — what work stands apart, expresses something new, appears fresh in a field of commonalities. In dance and theatre, if you see a piece and it is no different from other works’ of today, chances are it is not going to have a lasting affect on the art form, let alone an audience. The same, of course, is true for pop-music: if a song sounds just like any other song, who is going to be listening to it next month, let alone twenty years from now?

Dylan has never been enamored of working in the studio. His career has been defined as much by his transitions as it has been by spontaneity.

The issue he is identifying here is sweet music to all of us who crave the immediacy of a performance; meeting a unique voice/sound; hearing a work of music and knowing the artist because it is unlike any other singer/songwriter.

So, Dylan is not just being a cranky 65 year old. Nor, is he changing his religion, again.

He is singing the words that make us stop and think, just as he has always done.

Now that he has tackled the evils of the studio, what is he going to say about today’s politics?

- Bill Reichblum

Interview: Ulrike Becker

Monday, August 28th, 2006

Photo: Ulrike BeckerThe following is the first part of an interview with Ulrike Becker, one of the three artistic directors of the contemporary dance festival Tanz im August, taking place in Berlin, Germany from August 17 till September 2. This part of the interview focuses on the current festival edition program; the state of contemporary dance today and how it reflects on its own “tradition”; a few projects the festival has presented in this and previous years; and a look forward, into the future of contemporary dance.

 Interview: Ulrike Becker [16:06m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Playbill 2.0

Sunday, August 20th, 2006

This week in our Festival News, we cover The Sun’s report on the new printed programs coming to New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Why is the Met changing their format and approach? Under the new leadership of Peter Gelb, this largest of performing arts institutions in America has discovered that audiences enjoy having easily accessible context for a performance.

Along with the other constituent theaters at Lincoln Center, management knows that audiences do not have a lot of time to read lengthy essays. Everyone is sitting there waiting for the performance to begin. So, short writings — on the work’s history, author/composer background, significance of the work, current production approach, performers, and creative team — provide a context to enhance the enjoyment and understanding of the work.

Need less to say, this is a most welcome addition to the audience experience. It is, in fact, fertilized by the same soil that we have at KadmusArts: the more you know about a work of art, the more directly you can navigate its heart and soul.

In the article, the model cited for the Met’s new endeavor is a magazine. Isn’t that a bit, well, old-fashioned? Surely, the collection of material appears to be closer to the web: here are quick sources for detailed background; here is a place to go if you want to know more; if you are interested in x, then we think you might be interested in y; and, if you want to add to our information and point of view, here is how to become a participant.

An audience participates in a performing arts event by being in the same room. (As a very wise man once said, there are only two absolute essentials to theatre: an actor and an audience.) All arts institutions want to make their audiences participants - and then stakeholders - in the event. This kind of connection to an event builds audiences and engenders loyalty to the institution itself.

Providing rich context extends this growth opportunity and institutional service. The next step is for arts institutions to provide platforms for interaction: to break down the barriers between the professional (artist) and the amateur (audience) for a genuine mutuality of experience and exchange.

So, bravo to the Met, and throw flowers on the stage for encouragement to the next round.

- Bill Reichblum

Today’s Youth Slogan (via Dire Straits): I Want My I.T.

Sunday, August 13th, 2006

What do the youth of Brazil, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States have in common? It’s not dating techniques, nor dress code, nor agreement on the worst high school class. What they do all agree about is something much more significant: television is boring.

This week, in one study released by IDC and RKM on the youth of Brazil, Russia, and the United States, and one by Ofcom on the youth of the U.K., television viewing is down and online use is up. Not only are the young moving away from the television, but this trend is far greater than for older watchers and users. (Think about it for a moment: it is more fun to be a user as opposed to a watcher.)

The IDC and RKM study notes that being online is considered fun, necessary and convenient; television, on the other hand, is considered inconvenient and boring.

Isn’t that great?

Hope springs eternal for two reasons. As opposed to the passivity of television watching, being online is active entertainment: you search, you jump in, you examine or play, and then you move on to the next search, game, social setting, or site of enlightenment. Even more, you can immediately and directly be integrated into multiple voices — sites and users from all over the world.

Secondly, this is also a perfect description of being part of a festival: search, jump in, examine or play, move on to next search, game, social setting, or site of enlightenment; and, be with others from all over the world.

The more one uses the internet to “travel” online, the more one has the taste - and desire - for cultural travel.

I am sure Mark Knopfler is writing new lyrics right now: “I want my, I want my, I want my I.T.”

- Bill Reichblum

Interview: Nick Stuccio

Sunday, August 13th, 2006

Poster: Philly FringeThis week Ana Maria interviews Nick Stuccio, the Producing Director of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, which runs from September 1-16th in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In this podcast, Nick talks about the artists performing in this year’s festival, the diversity and significance of venues and his favorite festivals (besides Philly Fringe).

 Interview: Nick Stuccio [15:59m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Refreshing Art Licks the Competition

Monday, August 7th, 2006

August is fringe festival month. Throughout the month, about a million audience members and artists come together for wild, wacky, experimental, ground breaking, and sometimes just plain silly but fun, performances.

From Edinburgh to Darwin, from Saskatoon to Durban, fringe festivals are the best example of the world’s support and enjoyment for the variety and diversity of artistic expression.

So how does is this taste for a medley, this desire to experience something new, translate into other sources of gratification?

According to the International Ice Cream Association (IICA), the most popular flavor - by far - is vanilla. Even as more flavors have been introduced, along with more combinations, vanilla is still the first and main choice.

There is some mystery as to how the IICA arrived at this determination of humanity’s willfulness toward blandness. Unlike the Trilateral Commission, the names of the members of the Board of the IICA are available only via a secure website.

Let’s assume, then, IICA’s survey captured those that are too sedentary, too boring, and too television addicted to leave their homes. This is the vanilla crowd.

If the survey had been done with the fringe festival audiences and artists… well, what flavor do you think would hit the top of the charts?

At least we know that there would be a lot more interesting and inspiring choices in the list of most popular ice creams.

It is a great sign for art that while some people are putting down their money to buy vanilla after vanilla, in the festival world a lot more money is being spent on what’s new, different, enlightening, and full of pure unexpected joy.

That is something truly refreshing!

- Bill Reichblum

Interview: Myroslava Haniushkina (English Translation)

Monday, August 7th, 2006

Photo: Myroslava HaniushkinaMyroslava Haniushkina is the coordinator and press secretary for the Sheshory Festival. The festival takes place in a small Carpathian village in Ukraine - the main events literally happen on the village premises, turning the football field into an open air concert ground, the village school into a space for dance and crafts workshops, and villagers’ houses into temporary lodgings for guests. One of the primary festival objectives is guaranteeing the ecological sustainability of the locale where it takes place. In this interview, translated by Sofiya Skachko, Myroslava Haniushkina discusses the steps taken to reduce Sheshory’s environmental impact, together with its cultural philosophy and history.

 Interview: Myroslava Haniushkina (English Translation) [10:36m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Interview: Myroslava Haniushkina (in Ukrainian)

Monday, August 7th, 2006

Photo: Myroslava HaniushkinaВ недавньому щоденниковому записі  Біл звернув нашу увагу на ориѓінальну ідею вирішення проблеми зі сміттям під час Балладрумського фестивалю тартанового серця. Відповідальність за вирішення цієї проблеми ще більша у фестивалю, котрий задався ціллю плекати екологічне середовище. Фестиваль “Шешори” проводиться у невеличкому карпатському селі в Україні, де основні заходи проходять на території села: футбольне поле перетворюється на відкритий концертний майданчик, сільська школа - в місце проведення танцювальних та ремесляних майстерень, домівки сільських мешканців на тимчасові домівки для гостей. Цей фестиваль знайшов свій спосіб боротися зі сміттям, яке інакше могло б затопити село. Про це, а також про мистецьку концепцію фестивалю та його історію, ви зможете почути в інтерв’ю з Мирославою Ганюшкіною, координатором та прес секретарем фестивалю. На форумі ви зможете почитати про враження від цьогорічного фестивалю, а якщо ви самі його відвідали, то залишіть свій відгук.

 Interview: Myroslava Haniushkina (in Ukrainian) [11:29m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download